To Practice Relaxing

Freeing the Free Leg

Almost no one changed partners at last night's practica so I worked a great deal with one gentleman in particular, which turned out to be a great opportunity. This gentleman tends to lead a lot of movements that count on the follower's free leg truly being free - displacements, small and fluid volcadas and the like - so I got to really work on that aspect that's been so hard for me. After the second song I was finally able to relax my unweighted leg by default instead of trying to relax it when I realized the lead required it to be relaxed. The more I was able to relax that free leg - the easier it was for me to then work on an even harder technique issue . . .

Relaxing my hips . .

The trick with relaxing my hips is that they don't generally feel tense or tight. I've even caught myself saying, 'they are relaxed!' when a leader or teacher has tried to work with me on that. It wasn't until I started working with Daniela Arcuri in her workshops and then during a private, that I experienced *really* relaxing my hips. It actually takes me focusing on relaxing everything from my knees to my hips to really release that tension. And while I'm trying to keep my hips relaxed, which is just about as hard as making them relax in the first place, I have to remember to keep my core/abdominals strong and somewhat tight. It's not a natural feeling at first. But if I don't keep my core strong, I start to use momentum to finish turns and changes of direction creating a sort of unsteady rocking/tilting sensation. Essentially, I lose control of the movement and just count on the momentum to carry it.

Note: For an idea of just how dangerous it can be to count on momentum to finish movements and steps (instead of controlled motions) - it was using momentum to carry my leg through a fan kick (many, many years ago) that dislocated my hip. Obviously an extreme example that's not likely to turn up in tango, but I try not to forget that lesson.

So last night at practica, I practiced and practiced and practiced . . . relaxing. Thank you Mr. B. for working with me so much on that and being so patient.

2 comments:

Alex said...

Relaxing the free leg is a...hmmm...a more advanced concept? It seems it only comes with time and effort. Not relaxed like a rag doll, somewhere between slack and tension, relaxed but ready to be called into action in a split second.

A very difficult concept to both comprehend and then actually physically master, absent conscious thought.

So very few followers can actually manifest this.

This puts a smile on my face that you are working on this - I wish more women would.

Happy Thanksgiving!

happyseaurchin said...

i've only been able to feel the relaxed leg of one partner
in all my experience of dancing

i have felt it at moments with others
but really
it is very very rare

so please continue with this
makes the experience for a sensitive leader
AMAZING!

as to how to learn this...
well
it's more about unlearning
i think

in tai chi
there's a term
sung
to refer to the alert relaxed state...

in the same way your arm does not collapse
and certainly does not push against your partner
so
your leg doesn't collapse with weight on it
and yet does not push on the ground

wonder if that helps?

fall into a lean against a wall on one leg
and observe how the other leg's weight just displaces
swings back and forth like a pendulum
until it comes to a complete rest

play around with the viscosity of the ligaments
so that it comes to rest at different rates...